The Trade

Inspired by Kristi P-L, USAF, Iraq 2009-2010 

The Trade

She packed up her comfy jeans 

and laying-around T-shirts

She shrugged into a heavy canvas uniform, 

now her second skin

Boxed up her peep-toe high heels and sandals

and stacked them away 

Now all she’s got are dusty high-top boots 

with heavy tread

No delicate black eyeliner around lovely hazel eyes 

Just smudges of purple, her badges of fatigue 

No long showers here

Just unshaved legs so she looks like 

the rest of the troops

Forget salon haircuts with mousse or gel 

In marches a permanent helmet-head hairdo

She strains to remember how lovely 

that last manicure felt

Handling weapons with broken, scraggy fingernails, unpolished and blunt

Velvety cosmetic powder abandoned at home 

She wears the Iraqi desert upon her face 

Late night chat-fests with friends 

of her choosing, 

No more 

Now, it’s early morning wake-up and drill

No delicate sparkling pendants around her neck

Just a dull metal chain with tags 

that identify her blood type

While mother’s comforting shoulder 

and soothing touch wait at home

She learns combat strategies and 

how to react to roadside bombs

Instead of cradling a tiny baby 

She crawls into a burdened flak jacket 

that hides her girlish figure

She rolls out with a loaded M4 and a 9mm Beretta.


Filed under For The Troops, Personal Articles, Prose & Poetry

8 responses to “The Trade

  1. Eloquent in its simplicity. Memorable for a long while.

  2. So much has been traded by our brave soldiers so the rest of us can be free. You captured this poignant exchange so powerfully here, Karen.

  3. Thought provoking Karen, very powerful. We have so much to be thankful. Thank you for sharing.

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